Lifestyle management in patients has become extremely important today owing to the rise of lifestyle diseases like diabetes. (See 3 big diabetes updates of 2014) Doctors need to promote lifestyle management in patients with diabetes, asthma, heart failure, arthritis, hypertension and many other chronic conditions. However, implementation of essential lifestyle modifications in a patient’s routine is one the biggest challenges that physicians have to face in patient management.
Many patients are unable to change their unhealthy behavior even though they are well aware of the significance of healthy habits in improving chronic conditions. Physicians should thus be at the forefront in encouraging lifestyle changes among patients. Some lifestyle modifications are well established through research in creating significant reduction in morbidity and mortality.
Here are 5 simple ways to help promote lifestyle management in patients:
1. Smoking cessation programs for patients
Smoking is one of the leading causes of heart attack, stroke, cancer and many pulmonary pathologies. On the other hand, second hand smoke leads to asthma and many breathing problems. Smoking cessation treatment incorporates three phases: preparation, intervention, and maintenance. In preparation phase, doctors and other physicians increase smoker’s motivation to abstain as well as build confidence that they can be successful. Intervention attributes to pharmacological and/or psychological support to help smokers achieve abstinence. Maintenance includes substitute behaviors and supporting coping strategies that help an individual achieve permanent abstinence. You should inform your patients on various support groups, nicotine replacement therapy, as well as other medications that can help them quit smoking.
2. Planned diet charts for patients
Healthy diet has a high likelihood of preventing certain chronic diseases like diabetes, stroke, and heart diseases. It also reduces the risk of developing some cancers as well as helps maintain a healthy weight. It is vital that you enlighten your patients on the significance of maintaining the right balance between various nutrients in order to achieve a maximum health benefit. In general, their diet should contain food from various food groups, which include milk and dairy foods, fruits and vegetables, proteins, and starchy foods. You further inform them on the importance of doing away with sugary drinks and foods since they have high contents of calories that lead to increased weight gain. Likewise, foods that have high contents of salt increase risk of developing high blood pressure should be discouraged.
One of the cost-effective ways of promoting healthy diet habits among patients is by encouraging the use of planned diet charts aimed at improving specific disease conditions. For instance, for diabetes, hypertension and coronary artery disease, every disease has its recommended guidelines coming from international regulatory bodies and based on abundant research data. Doctors can use this data for devising a planned diet chart, and this would surely help patients adopt a healthy diet.
3. Exercise promotion among patients
It is of immense significance that you encourage your patients to take part in regular exercise. Regular exercise where helps maintain a balance in optimal weight, simultaneously, it also play an immense role in reducing risk of contracting heart diseases and high blood pressure. In fact, indulging in regular physical activities help manage as well as prevent a broad range of heath diseases like type 2 diabetes, stroke, arthritis etc. Similarly, regular exercises help boost patients’ endurance and improve their muscle strength.
Encouraging patients to join exercise programs on weekly basis with recommended strength of exercise and time would help them build their routine. Keeping a follow up on lifestyle habits and giving timely reminders between follow ups are well understood methods of incitement.
4. Teaching patients about stress management
One of the most vital things that you can do to a patient is teaching them on how to manage stress. In any case, you can learn various lessons on stress management and later model them for your patients. You should encourage your patients to adopt various relaxation techniques like self-hypnosis and meditation. You can conduct formal training courses for your patients or encourage them to buy books and relaxation tapes if they cannot afford to pay for the training courses.
5. Encouraging optimal sleep
Proper sleep plays a crucial role in keeping patient’s mind and body sound and healthy. Enough sleep plays a key role in improving patients’ chronic conditions. In particular, enough sleep is vital in managing the symptoms of depression or bipolar illness. Too little sleep has a high likelihood of impacting patients’ mental and physical health; thus, precipitating quite a good number of diseases as well as hampering your daily functionality.
Cleveland clinic offers a 6 weeks online course which helps promote soothing sleeping in patients with short-term insomnia. A method of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is employed: aiming at first recognizing the factors involved in perplexed sleep and then to reorganize the thoughts and behavior to achieve a deep sleep. Physicians can consider this course to update their knowledge about effective sleep therapy.
Encouraging proper lifestyle behaviors help promote and improve overall well-being of your patients. Advising your patients on the importance of regular exercise, nutritious and balanced diets, as well as quitting smoking are some of ways that can significantly improve their illness.
Are there any other methods you follow, for promoting lifestyle management in patients? Please let us know in the comments.